The Humor Mill

Jerry Stiller, Of ‘Seinfeld’ And Stiller & Meara Fame, Passes Away

Posted May 11, 2020

The husband half of the legendary comedy duo also starred for years on ‘The King of Queens.’

Jerry Stiller, the shorter half of the famed husband-and-wife comedy team Stiller & Meara who was the father of the famous (Ben Stiller) and the fictitious (Seinfeld nebbish George Costanza), has died. He was 92.

“I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes,” Ben Stiller tweeted. “He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”

Stiller played another dad, the basement-dwelling Arthur Spooner, on the long-running CBS sitcom The King of Queens.

Anne Meara, his wife of 61 years and frequent comedy partner, died in May 2015. In addition to actor-director Ben, survivors include their daughter Amy Stiller, an actress.

While Stiller was 5-foot-4 and Jewish, Meara was lanky, two inches taller and an Irish-American who was raised Catholic. Needing a comedy bit as a stint on The Ed Sullivan Show loomed, Stiller decided to use their dissimilarities for what would become their signature routine, playing the characters Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle.

“That was Jerry’s idea, to use and plumb the depths of our backgrounds, exaggerate them and have the two differences of the Jewish and the gentile,” Meara said during a 2005 Archive of American Television sit-down with her husband.

The New Yorkers, who had met in a theatrical agent’s office in 1953 after both failed to land a job in summer stock, made 36 appearances on the Sullivan show alone. By the end of the decade, they were the No. 1 couple of comedy, inheriting the title vacated by Elaine May and Mike Nichols and following in the footsteps of another famous husband-and-wife team, George Burns & Gracie Allen.

Stiller portrayed the cranky and combustible Frank Costanza, a former salesman who speaks fluent Korean, on more than two dozen episodes of NBC’s Seinfeld, and in 1997 he received his lone Emmy nomination for his work on the show. (The character was introduced during the fourth-season episode “The Handicap Spot” but was played by John Randolph. Series co-creator Larry David, though, thought Randolph “looked too Protestant,” said Stiller, who flew out to L.A. to audition for the job.)

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Humor Mill Radio LIVE!


The Humor Mill Volume 7 Issue 1 March 2023

Join Our Mailing List HERE

%d bloggers like this: